The long arm of the law swiftly caught up one of the three convicts wanted for human trafficking hours after Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale and International Justice Mission Director Samson Inocencio Jr. called for a press conference Wednesday morning asking the public to help for the arrest of these fugitives.
At 2 p.m. yesterday, Jocelyn Cardona was apprehended by the police in her residence in Sitio Palanas, Ronda town, south of Cebu.
The other two convicts Neopito Dizon and Annie Dizon, whom the authorities believed are relatives, remain at large.
“This is a unified front. We are working with each other to make Cebu a peaceful place to live in,” Magpale said during the press conference.
Aside from asking the public’s help, the vice governor also appealed to the tri-media for assistance in disseminating information on the identities of the fugitives.
Last Dec. 9, 2016, Regional Trial Court Judge Jose Nathaniel Andal found the three guilty of qualified trafficking. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and were meted a fine of P2 million.
The Court also slapped them P500,000 for moral damages and P100,000 for exemplary damages.
According to the case’s facts sheet handed out by IJM, the three convicts brought women and children to different bars in Cebu City for prostitution and sexual exploitation.
On Feb. 12, 2008, they were arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas at a house in Capitol Site where authorities also rescued 27 women, 14 of whom were children.
The convicts were released from custody after the Regional Trial Court Branch 14 dismissed their case due to demurrer of evidence. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC’s decision and remanded the case back to the trial court.
During the new trial, the three fugitives did not appear in Court until they were convicted last week, ending the eight-year legal battle.
“We will find these convicts. We want them to be held accountable for their crimes,” Inocencio said. (Kelvin Cañizares)